No Strategy Means All of The Challenges And None of The Opportunities

Putting different groups of people in a room together does not make them mix. The people in those groups will cling to their own. Without some strategy for creating new connections between people who otherwise will not mix, diversity won’t happen. You may even get a worse outcome than you had before.

We introduced a new group of youth to a big youth activity last summer who were from a different part of the city. We were pleased with ourselves for our “diverse” approach. But we didn’t prepare them, and we didn’t prepare the existing group, and we didn’t prepare ourselves as leaders, for the challenges and opportunities inherent in new connections, and so we were caught flat-footed by the challenges and realized few of the opportunities. We lacked a strategy.

Of course, not everything needs to be connected. Positive things running parallel to one another is a fine outcome.

It remains important work, though, to create bonds between groups of people who differ in age, gender, race, and class (Sociologist Robert Putnam called this “bridging social capital“). But just putting those groups in the same room is not a strategy.